A fantastic film
Wednesday March 8, 2000 will be a red-letter day in my life. That was the day I watched Fucking Åmål aka Show Me Love for the first time. The Norwegian edition of this review was first published April 2, 2000, and I began work on the English translation April 5 the same year, because I got contacted even from foreign fans that was interested in reading what I wrote, and I saw a need of an in-depth or serious look at Fucking Åmål. I felt the websites and reviews already available online were rather shallow. The original translation was completed May 18, 2000, but now in January 2002 I've done a complete face-lift of the graphics and layout, added new aspects, and removed outdated information.
Usually, I'm quite early writing film reviews, but this time I must admit that I'm very late. I guess a lot of people (especially here in Scandinavia) has forgotten all about Fucking Åmål by now. Well, maybe you were a bit frightened by all the hype the film got back in 1998-99, and decided not to watch it of that reason. «Swedish film about lesbians? Could that be anything...?» Well, you made one of your worst choices - or maybe the film hasn't even been shown in cinemas where you live. I do mean a «film», because this is certainly no «movie». Fucking Åmål is at the time of writing - spring 2000 - on cinemas in Austria and has just finished in Germany (and in United Kingdom too I think), so this English release of the review is pretty well timed really. It's also well timed along with the Nordic DVD release, which was a couple of months ago, after a lot of delays. Of course this release will get special attention in a separate paragraph. I think a European or at least a German release (possibly dubbed into German... grml) will come this summer. So Fucking Åmål is still hot!
If you haven't seen this film, you should be aware of that I'll reveal and describe most of the plot quite detailed. You may choose to skip the synopsis. You'll indeed miss some of my comments then; I've added some information on some scenes from the Director's Commentary on the DVD, descriptions of cut scenes and some other reflections. This is only meant as a summary, and you'll get a lot more information in the book and on the DVD, which you'll of course run and buy after reading this article.
my secret wish list:
1. that I won't have to have a party
2. that elin will look at me
3. that elin will fall in love with me
I LOVE ELIN!!!!!!!!!!
Agnes in 9A (last year of «junior high school» in Sweden) has few friends, thinks no one cares about her and thinks there's no point in living anymore. She is laughed to scorn at school when she, on the mothers request, invites to her 16th birthday party. At the same time is Agnes in love with Elin...
Elin is bored at school and thinks Åmål is the dullest place in the world to live, even if she apparently has lots of friends and has no problem getting a boyfriend. She doesn't really know what she wants, and thinks all boys are losers, even though she's messed around with about 70 000.
- Aaarghh! Ni är så tråkiga!
- Ohhhh! You are so boring!
- Jag hatar mitt liv!
- Jag ska sluta andas.
- I hate my life!
- I'm going to stop breathing.
- Ååh! Varför måste vi bo i fucking jävla kuk-Åmål!
- Ohh. Why do we have to live in fucking bloody dick-Åmål!
- Men jag vill knarka!
- But I want to get high!
Now she doesn't want to go to Christian's party because she knows she'll meet Johan Hult there, who is interested in her.
- Åh, gud, vad jobbigt! «Vill du ha skjuts...»
- Oh, God, how stressful! «Do you want a ride...»
- Men! Han går på gymnasiet och åker moped...
- But he attends High School and drives a moped...
When Jessica mentions that people are talking about all the boys Elin's been with, she says she doesn't care, especially not about gossip like that. Elin persuades Jessica that they'll go to Agnes' party. She hopes that Agnes maybe knows some cool guys from other places.
Trivia! The scene where Elin and Jessica talks about an Italian that was a Bosnian is a «left-over» from one of the first drafts of the script, which was about these two sisters and something spooky that happened in the house next-door.
- Det är ingen som får stoppa in några grejer i mig. Fingrar kanske, men inget annat.
- Nobody gets to put some stuff into me. Fingers maybe, but nothing else.
- Jaha? Vet du vad noll gånger noll är? Så mycket bryr jag mig om vad folk snackar för jävla skit.
- Do you know what zero multiplied by zero is? So much do I care about the fucking shit people say.
But «the party» at Agnes isn't going well. Her mother Karin made roast beef even though Agnes is a vegetarian. This is a typical example of how adults don't really manage to understand or accept the importance of their children's standpoints (something I've got personal experience with since I'm a vegetarian myself)...
- What's that smell?
- A roast beef I have in the oven.
- Oh yes, how great. How appropriate!
- I thought that maybe some of your fellows would like...
- Your daughter is a vegetarian, and you serve meat on her birthday. Great!
- But dear...
(- Vad är det som luktar?
- Det är en rostbiff som jag har i ugnen.
- Jaha, vad fint. Så lämpligt.
- Jag tänkte att kanske nåra av dine kamrater skulle uppskatta...
- Din dotter är vegetarian och du serverar kött på hennes födelsedag. Strålande.
- Men lilla gumman...)
Only Agnes' mock-buddy Victoria has been there, but Agnes yelled at her in frustration of her life. Even if she really doesn't mean what she says, it's much truth in it, and everything can be related to reality... Whether we like it or not.
- Well, I can't accept this. I'm sorry, but I can actually not accept this. (...) If this is the best you can do, I think you rather can refrain from it. And you can go home, and bring your perfume with you. We're only hanging together because we have no one else to be with, so then you and I have to be pals instead, or what? Do you know what the dull I've ever done in my life is? Do you know what? It was when you and I were at wheelchair-basket in Karlstad. Do you know what, I won't be friend with a CP-damaged idiot who listens to Backstreet Boys or Arvingarna or I don't know what kind of shit you listen to.
(- Alltså, jag kan inte acceptera det här. Jag är ledsen, men jag kan faktiskt inte acceptera det här. (...) Om det här är det besta som ni har att komma med så kan ni lika gärna låta bli. - Du kan gå hem och ta parfymen med dig. Vi är bara kompisar på låtsas du och jag, før att vi inte har nå annan att vara med, så då får du och jag vara kompisar i stellet, eller hur? Vet du vad det tråkigaste som jag har gjort i hela mitt liv är, vet du det? Det var när du och jag var på rullstolsbasket i Karlstad. Vet du vad? Jag vill inte vara kompis med en CP-skadad idiot som lyssnar på Backstreet Boys eller Arvingarna eller jag vet inte vad det är för skit du lyssnar på.)
- I never wanted a party! That was your idea! It was you who wanted that, not me. Now you can sit here and enjoy the delightful roast beef. Enjoy yourselves!
(- Jag ville ju aldrig ha nån fest! Det var din idé! Det var du som ville, inte jag! Ni kan ju sitta här och njuta av den underbara rostbiffen. Ha det så kul!)
Someone might criticize Agnes or even think she's stupid because she ruins the friendship she actually has with Viktoria. But have they really been friends? Look at how insensible Agnes hands her the invitation card, how half-hearted she practices French with her, receives the birthday present quite expressionless, and finally receives the message that Viktoria disliked her too without really caring about it. The fact that Agnes goes to apologize to Viktoria is something she feels she has to do because she thinks Viktoria might be hurt. But in reality none of them liked each other, and then it's maybe best to get it out, and put an end to what never really was a friendship anyway. It's easy to hook up the least popular in a class, without considering whether or not they have common interests. They can very likely be completely different, on opposite edges of the scale, and of that reason have less in common than they would have had with any other person in the class.
Trivia! Do you wonder how Victoria could use the doorbell when she's in a wheelchair? According to script Malin Fernander had Agnes' nice dad mounted an extra doorbell on the wall below the stairs. Unfortunately it's not needed anymore now... They made up this story just to cover up this goof of course :).
Later Agnes' father tries to comfort her in her room, without really succeeding. The dialog here is ingenious, and something we rarely see in film. Agnes repeats the sentences in a typical natural way and also uses an incomplete sentence, where we, like in reality, must understand what she means: - She was like... She was like those who...
(- Jag vet precis hur hon var, jag vet precis; hon var en sån som dom som... Of course Agnes is talking about those who pester her at school. «The normal kids». Like you sort of are supposed to be and act, for some reason.
- Why should I live? I don't want to live! I will die!
(- Varför ska jag leva för? Jag vill inte leva! Jag vill dö!)
- Mum has anyway not understood anything. Because she can't understand things like this. She has always been so perfect and always... and always been so successful. I know exactly how she was. I know exactly how she was. She was like... She was like they who... And now she thinks it's so awful that her daughter has become so weird and unsuccessful and nasty.
(- Mamma har i alla fall inte förstått nånting, för hon kan aldrig förstå sånt här. För hon har alltid varit så himla perfekt och alltid haft det så bra. Jag vet precis hur hon var, jag vet precis; hon var en sån som dom som... Och nu tycker hon att det är så himla hemskt att hennes dotter har blivit så himla konstig och ful och misslyckad och äcklig.)
Later Elin and Jessica come to Agnes. The get a bottle of wine from Agnes' liberal mother, and they are shown to Agnes' room. When Agnes arrives has Jessica locked the door. She doesn't like Agnes, and will just finish the wine and get drunk. Elin thinks they should open the door. Jessica has heard that Agnes is a Lesbian, and Elin exclaims that she also could become that. It's cool, she says, but she isn't really serious. Jessica persuades Elin to kiss Agnes for twenty kronor (about 2.5 USD/ Euro).
you are my sun
you shine over me
you warm me
but I can't touch you
you are so far away
I'm a little planet
that orbits around you
around around around
one of all planets
that you never see
It was Lukas that wrote this poem. It wasn't supposed to be especially good, and Rebecca thought it was a bit too bad for Agnes to have written it. But personally I think it has a touch... (quite good translated to English too). Lukas was actually a poet before he wrote his first real film script, without knowing that would become a worldwide success. At his young age he has published an impressive number of poem collections, read more under Cast & Crew.
- What then, if you think that she's so very nice, why can't you go out and neck with her or something.
- What do I get if I do that?
- If you do what?
- If I neck with her?
- You'll get AIDS probably.
(- Vadå, om du tycker att hon är så himla sjysst så kan väl du gå ut och hångla med henne eller nåt.
- Okej. Vad fär jag om jag gör det då?
- Om du gör vadå?
- Om jag hånglar med henne?
- Du fär väl AIDS antagligen!)
The next scene is the saddest and most moving moment of the film, if you manage to put yourself into the situation. You see that Agnes really hits the bottom. Agnes is scoffed by the one she love. Later that night she tries to commit suicide with a safety razor...
- What's your standby time?
(- Vad har du för standby-tid då?)
- Is it Agnes? Yes, I just wanted you to know that I'm so fucking horny on you. Why can't... Why can't I come home to you so we could lick each other or something?
(- Är det Agnes? Jag ville bara att du skulle veta att jag är så jävla kåt på dig. Kan inte jag få komma hem till dig så vi kan slicka varandra eller nånting?)
The leader of the «girl-clique» Elin frequents in, Camilla, gets to hear what happened at Agnes, and calls her to torment her even more. Elin doesn't want to participate; she regrets. Johan Hult, who attends the upper high school/ upper secondary school, but still drives a moped, is in love with her, but she is less interested. She leaves the party. Markus thinks Elin is a bit young for Johan, since he is 17 and she is 14. And that is a big difference in age in that age, for some reason. Later in life three years means nothing. Elin is sorry for what she did to Agnes earlier that night. Therefore, she goes back to her house.
When Agnes is going to cut herself with the safety razor her father Olof knocks on the door. She's just put on Adagio, and turns the volume down. Agnes unlocks the door and pretends to be reading Edith Södergran poems. Her father says that he's made some tea, and begins quoting a poem by Edith Södergran: The Day Cools (När Dagen Svalnar): «The day cools toward night.» - How is it now? «Take my hand, take my arm, take my coo... slim shoulder's longing...» (- «Dagen svalnar mot kvällen.» Hur är det nu? «Tag min hand, tag min arm, tag mina sva... smala axlars längtan...») Olof understands that Agnes wants to be alone, and leaves the room. Agnes locks the door, and takes out the safety razors. She turns up the music before she sits down in the chair and cuts herself quickly in the wrist. It bleeds, but the razor won't cut deep enough. Agnes is going to try again, when she hears a something hit the windows. She can see Elin outside. This is one of the most touching moments in the film.
Since Lukas Moodysson is a poet himself (or was), it's probably not incidental that he choose När Dagen Svalnar by Edith Södergran in this scene, even though he hasn't said anything about it neither on the DVD or other places (nobody has thought of asking I guess). If you should find something, don't hesitate to contact me. In any case I'll try - in fear of being speculative - to write a small poem analysis...
När Dagen Svalnar is about love. Since it's Agnes' father who quotes it, we can use the poem as a symbol on her love toward Elin (among with other reasons that make this most natural). I begin with the quote from the film (from the first verse):
Dagen svalnar mot kvällen...
Drick värmen ur min hand,
min hand har samma blod som våren.
Tag min hand, tag min vita arm,
tag mina smala axlars längtan...
Det vore underligt att känna,
en enda natt, en natt som denna,
ditt tunga huvud mot mitt bröst.
The day cools toward evening...
Drink the warmth from my hand,
in throbs with spring's own blood.
Take my hand, take my white arm,
take the longing of my slender shoulders...
How strange if I could feel,
one single night, a night like this,
your heavy head against my breast.
Agnes longs for Elin's attention, and wishes for her nearness. But when that can't be obtained she finds it pointless to live, and that makes this like a call or «wish for nearness» with the death. One other point it that Olof wishes to touch his daughter's shoulders, but changes his mind because he's so clearly rejected. The other verse continues in the same track, it's about wishing for nearness with the other part. Then the point of view changes to «the woman» in the third verse, in this case Elin, and that makes Agnes «the man». Well, mow this comparison might begin to seem a bit strained, but...
nu hör jag verklighetens hårda klang
mot mina sköra, sköra drömmar.
now I hear the hard ring of reality
against my sheer, sheer dreams.
The reality tells that Elin is in love with Agnes, but «the dream» to be «normal» results in that Elin tries to start a relationship with Johan, that doesn't work out.
Du sökte en blomme
och fann en frukt.
Du sökte en källa
och fann et hav.
Du sökte en kvinna
och fann en själ --
du är besviken.
You looked for a flower
and found a fruit.
You looked for a well
and found an ocean.
You looked for a woman
and found a soul --
you are deceived.
Things get not always as you wish for, and Agnes found in the beginning not the Elin she wanted to find. Elin was more complicated than she hoped for (in her deepest dreams). We don't really get this impression before later in the film than this poem is read, but anyway (when Elin rejects Agnes and gets together with Johan). Agnes is deceived... Luckily it turns out better in the end than it evidently does in the poem. The poem can also with luck be used as a symbol on the relationship between Jessica and Markus.
Elin pretends that she has to go to the toilet and excuses what happened earlier. She asks if Agnes really is Lesbian, and that she understands it because all boys are so disgusting (äckliga). She thinks she can become it as well. Notice Rebecca's (Agnes') amazing expressions and eye movements in this scene!
Cut scene! This scene was originally longer. Elin asks about if it's a person that's called Bob Hund (Swedish rock band), and she comments the tuck Agnes has around her wrist. She explains it just the way it is, that she wanted to kill herself because she is in love with a person that doesn't love her, but pretends she was joking afterwards, and says she just tied it there for fun and that she thought it would be nice. Elin is not sure what to believe. I think this scene could seem a little strange, and Lukas himself explains that he didn't manage to explain Rebecca and Alexandra what he wanted in this scene, and that's why it was cut. The thing about Bob Hund I think could have been fun, but it's maybe unlikely that someone like Elin wouldn't know that Bob Hund is a band. On the other hand, she was drunk.
- Jag vill va konstig, eller inte konstig, men jag vill inte va som alla andra. Fast ibland tror jag att jag är precis som alla andra.
- I want to be weird, or not weird, but I don't want to be like anyone else. But sometimes I think I am like everyone else.
- Men vi är så jävla coola!
- But we're so fucking cool!
- Om du hade bott i Stockholm till exempel, då hade du kunnat få hur många tjejer som helst.
- If you'd lived in Stockholm for example, then you could have got as many girls you wanted.
Elin asks Agnes if she wants to come along to the party. If not for anything else, so to burn down their house. Agnes dwells, she is still upset about the episode earlier and the strange feeling after the suicide attempt. Finally, they go out, but Agnes doesn't want to come along to the party. They decide to hitchhike to Stockholm. Now follows the romantic highlight (QuickTime format, choose Save Target As...). They never get to Stockholm, but Elin promises to call Agnes the next day.
Jessica thinks Elin has tried to pet with Markus when she won't say who she was together with the night before, and rushed upon her. At last Elin says it was Johan Hult.
- Dra åt helvete - jävla fitta kan du va själv!
- Go to hell - you can be a fucking cunt yourself!
Inside watches their mother Birgitta BingoLotto, even though she has no ticket. When Loket (in Swedish BingoLotto) says Sweets! (Godis,
du!) it's among the funniest lines in this film. Believe it or not... Maybe not for non-Scandinavians, but it's quite funny that someone can win sweets in a TV lottery show. And, it's a real show, if you wondered.
Meanwhile Agnes lies on the bed in her room looking at the school photo of Elin, and «touches herself», as it's written in the screenplay. Lukas wanted this scene to avoid that the love-story became too sweet and simple; he wanted to show that Agnes really got turned on Elin. Rebecca thought it was very difficult to play this alone, but she does it really well. I must admit that I didn't get the point with the scene the first time I watched the film, but that was on the other hand on a poor library VHS video. This is an example of how honest and straight Fucking Åmål is.
Cut scene! After this scene the father was supposed to enter the room and ask if Agnes wanted to watch a French film on TV. Agnes says she is too tired, and the father understands she has problems with something, but doesn't know what to say. I don't really understand why this scene was cut. Also Lukas would have liked to have it in the film. But it is maybe to avoid that the parents are showed too much, and they've really been good at that. Even though the parents are important in the lives of teenagers, this is primarily a film about the kids themselves and then the parents would become sort of an «interfering element», if you see what I mean.
Saturday night was Elin together with Johan Hult, but Elin is a bit unsure of herself. She tries to open a relationship with Johan, who she hasn't really liked earlier, because she will rather not be attracted by Agnes. He is nice, but very slow and has difficulties to make his own opinions. Jessica is getting fed up with that Markus are chugging and is briefing with his cellular phone all the time.
Life shall not be easier for Agnes. Elin is confused, and doesn't know really who she is anymore. She was going to call Agnes, but now she won't. Agnes waits for the phone to ring...
- Du är fan dum i huvet.
- You're damn stupid.
- Ja, det kanske jag är - jag umgås ju med dig! Man blir ju som man umgås.
- Yes, maybe I am - I spend time with you! You become like people you spend time with.
- Jag är hellre glad nu än om tjugofem år.
I'll rather be happy now than in twenty-five years.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Why do I have to be so stupid? Why do I love Elin? I hate her but I love her at the same time. I love her so my heart nearly breaks. But no one has ever hurt me like her.
She scoffs and tramples on me and still I love her.
Agnes feels exploited and fooled. She tries to get in contact with Elin, but she is repeatedly rejected. Agnes hits her, and Victoria, who never really finds her place, tries to get more popular by unveiling that Agnes is in love with Elin. That don't succeed, and she'll have to go into herself more than Agnes does to get accepted. The boys have hanged a porn picture on Agnes' locker, and ask her what she thinks. - Oh, quite good (- Å, så där).
Unfilmed scene! Before Johan and Elin slept with each other, they planned to shoot that they played video games, before they started to kiss each other and so on. But there was not enough time. And that was maybe not so crucial? It's not really this «love story» that's the most important.
- Mmm, så är det med Markus också. Fast han börjar bli bättre nu, men i början var det liksom bara pfft så var det över.
- Mmm, it was like that with Markus, too. Although he's getting better now, but in the beginning it was just like pfft and then it was over.
It's Friday. Agnes' little brother, Oskar, tells his mother Karin that his pal Kalle has said that Agnes is a lesbian. Previously she has said that it's completely normal and natural to be a Lesbian and homosexual, but when there is talk about her own daughter, she rejects those «ridiculous» rumour of course. This shows us how we all can have a very good attitude to for example homosexuality, but we are shocked or find it problematic when it gets to close to ourselves. Don't tell me it doesn't apply for you! Karin does the unforgivable, and looks in Agnes' diary on her computer («dator»). Agnes gets furious of course and throws her out of the room.
Cut scene! This scene was also originally longer. Karin stands outside Agnes' door and talks about that there is no manual for parents and gets angry when Agnes turns on loud hardcore music. She wonders if Agnes really hates her and why Agnes likes Olof better than her. He comes to comfort her, and she says that everything she says and everything she does gets wrong. I think it was good they took away this scene, because it would have been a too long parents-sequence. In addition it seems like the scene might have not worked out right. I thought it was maybe a little strange that Agnes didn't but on any music in the film, and that was included here. On the other hand I'm personally «against» putting on loud music to provoke or when you're angry or sad, especially if you like the music, because you in a way abuse the music, and you'll connect it with something negative. It also makes an impression that Agnes is very ignorant toward her mother, and that doesn't fit her person completely.
It's Saturday again, and this time Elin, Johan, Markus and Jessica are gathered in the girl's flat to watch BingoLotto. Alexandra still finds it totally stupid and boring, and turns off the television before she rushes out - at great irritation among the others. This scene, in cohohorance with the BingoLotto scene last Saturday, when Elin's mother Birgitta was watching it, can also be interpreted in a symbolic way. Elin found it stupid when Birgitta watched the show without even having a ticket. That's sort of the end. You've given up. The other kids have bought tickets, but are also watching the show. They're drifting into the same pattern as Birgitta. Elin still finds it stupid and boring. She's clearly breaking out of this normal A4 - standard - life. She's different...
When Elin returns, she understands that she can't hang out with Johan, and dump him by a cellular phone. This is why she was irritated of him being so slow to speak and mean anything. Later she calls him again and tells her that she had to brake up with him because she's interested in someone else. Johan is heartbroken. He was so happy and glad to have got Elin, and now everything is falling apart again. The romantic Lukas Moodysson tells us on the DVD that it'll be Jessica and Johan in the end, so everything ends happily (but what about Markus then?).
Cut scene! The scene where Elin calls Johan after she broke up with him was originally longer. Johan tries to act tough, but begins to cry and curls together when the conversation is over.
I guess not everyone understands the scene where Jessica and Elin are discussing over two manhole covers. It's nearly self-describing, but all the same... It's a special «superstition» in Sweden that it's bad luck to stand on an A-lock (abortion, anal sex, unemployed («arbetslös» and so on), while it means happiness to stand on a K-lock (Love («Kärlek»). Some of the point is gone when you translate to English, though.
- ...I'll do like this. Abortion! Unemployed! Rectal sex! No... I feel nothing. No anal sex.
- ...Jag gör så här. Abort! Arbetslös! Analsex!... Nej... jag känner inget. Inget analsex.
- Jag ska aldrig mer bli ihop med nån. Jag skal bli celibat.
- I'll never more be together with someone. I'm going to live in celibacy.
Elin has, as mentioned, broken up with Johan and understood that she is pulled more toward Agnes, who she now has avoided in a week. She accidentally breaks a window in Agnes' room when she wanted to talk to her, and runs away again.
Goof! There aren't many errors or goofs in Fucking Åmål, but it's actually very difficult to brake a window from street level, like Elin does it in the film, and it'll definitely not work with pebble. Lukas reveals this on the DVD; they had actually some problems getting the window to brake. On the other hand is this an important point in the film... Another goof is that you shall be able to hear Lukas shout a name somewhere, I don't know where. He also says there is an error between the scene where Elin is outside with Agnes, and she comes home. I think there's something about Elin's clothes, but I'm not sure. You may see a quite distinct editing cut in the film straight after this (when Jessica eats potato chips). Or maybe it was my DVD player. But these are things you altogether won't remark if you hadn't known about them. Well, now you do, anyway.
If you don't want to know how it ends, it's not especially clever to read on here. You should rather jump to why is it so incredibly good??. You'll miss some points though...
The next day Elin pushes Agnes into one of the school's toilets. Agnes is first distrustful after Elin has let her down and trampled on her so many times. But Elin says that she's really interested in her. Outside the toilet, a lot of people gathers; they believe Elin has a boy in there. Agnes, who has nothing to loose mean they should go out. We can see Elin is a bit concerned of what the others will think, but Agnes puts her to the test: Did you really mean what you said earlier? (Mente du värkligen vad du sa i stad?). Elin flops the door open, and says the film's most funny (roligaste) line:
Ta-dam. Here I am. Here's my new girl! Could you move? We're going to fuck.
(Ta-dam. Här är jag. Här är min nya tjej! Skulle ni kunna flytta på er? Vi ska gå och knulla.)
Elin and Agnes lead each other by the hand and go out from the school while we hear Broder Daniel's Underground in the background (- We look so good - we look so good together. And we don't care - we don't care what they say about us.). A lovely scene!
Originally it was planned that the film should end with the last scene, but Lukas felt that they needed a final touch, which wasn't in the script. (The script that was used during production, and that you can read in the book, was draft number 9). Now he thinks this is one of the best and most important scenes in the film. It was the production supervisor Malte Forsell who hatched the idea. This is also Rebecca's favourite scene. Elin has made O'boy (chocolate milk product like Nesquik), and tells that she often takes too much O'boy powder in the glass. What she says is quite meaningless, but it shows us that Elin and Agnes really get along. It had been easy for someone like Elin to explain away the previous episode by saying that she just «fucked» with Agnes when they came out from the toilet, but here it's them two alone, at Elin's place - drinking O'boy. So simple, but at the same time so ingenious. In the end it all tones out in Robyn's Show Me Love... and we had hoped it would last two hours more. Fucking Åmål is not longer than 86 minutes. But I can't look at that as negative by the very fact that it's normal Nordic production length, and at the same time had Fucking Åmål a rather low budget. Now, when I've said so much about this scene, you must of course get to hear it yourself (in Swedish) (MP3 format, choose Save Target As...). It's also fun to hear how much the Swedish public laughs at this scene :-). The laughs also a lot during the romantic car scene. I'll assume that a lot of people would laugh much than me during this film; I only hope you don't laugh at what it's not meant to be fun, only examples of how evil and disgusting teenagers can be at each other. You'd better ask yourself if you don't laugh at something that's not meant to be laughed at. It's also important not to misuse the quotes. Rip them away from their context. Then it'll just seem vulgar and banal. And Fucking Åmål doesn't deserve to be associated with that.
This film contains so many incredible quotes and moods that is even room for or possible to portray here. You must simply experience this film yourself.
Why is it so incredibly good??
In the end of the film there are no comments from parents or schoolmates about the relationship between Elin and Agnes. I like that, because it would ruin the romantic and fun ending if we got careless comments and «wise guy» parents. Most likely the relationship will not last, and Elin seems to be more bisexual than homosexual. But do we really need to care? What we see here is one chapter in life, and we won't be troubled with the problems that will occur later. Not now. When everything is so good. Thus, it's maybe good that Lukas Moodysson (quite) clear has stated that he's not going to make a successor. Because it can never live up to the original.
But what makes Fucking Åmål so good? The story may seem apparently banal and simple and remind you of an American High School movie (I do hope you don't get that impression after reading my synopsis, though). But this is far from American, and far from banal...
The text in the song Show Me Love is in a way the key to the whole film. Show me love. Show me life. Show me what it's all about. This is a unpainted story about the hard youth time, almost like a documentary, nothing is adjusted to the film media in any way. I'm convinced that everything that happens in this film could have happened, and to happen, any place really. Although the setting is a small town in Sweden, is the approach and story universal for at least the whole western world. It's about the frustrating, to put it mildly, period of life which the whole time lies in the edges of hell and paradise. You don't want to go back, but on the other hand you still do, because everything at the basis was so simple and unequivocal (clear). Black and white in a way. You'll recognise yourself, identify yourself with the actors, live yourself into their conflicts and get touched, provoked, sad and happy. You are not allowed to be untouched by this film, like you can of pointless action movies. You must take a position to it. Because it's about yourself. The film shows how difficult it is not to be «part of the gang», feel like your the most lonely in the world, how it's like not to feel home in the gang, how difficult it is to be parents. The unstable relationship between brothers and sisters. «Fucking Åmål» removes the biases you would have against love between two of the same sex, which really is the same as all kind of love! But this is no typical «gay-film». The film portrays the universal teen love, and that it here is between to girls, gives an extra punch to the point. It shows that the impossible maybe is possible. At least should be. You can get the one you want... When we here Broder Daniel in Whirlwind singing The only one I want. She was a superstar. It symbolises that Elin for Agnes is a superstar. Ironically has the person behind Agnes, Rebecca Liljeberg, become an unattainable «superstar» for many teen boys (and girls?) all around the world. If you're one of them, I'm sorry too disappoint you, because she is occupied. Look under actors. Like I said earlier we no that the ending of the film can't last forever. Because the crush is at the basis doomed to end. That's the youth time. Elin and Agnes drink O'boy! They're still children. That's why it's good the film ends like it does. So we can dream sway. Elin is maybe a lesbian, maybe bisexual. Or maybe even heterosexual. It's not really so uncommon that heterosexual girls both hug and kiss each other today. I have been to Italy. I shall not conceal that I - as a boy - probably wouldn't have been this profusely positive and moved by Fucking Åmål had to gay boys as the leading characters. But then it would have been a completely different angle, a completely different film. Girls are simply better to show feelings for each other. And here, there are two very cute girls as well... The film shows us that it won't be so difficult to show love for each other in the future. Even in a small town called Åmål.
The language and dialog really makes this film to what it is today. If it hadn't been for that the actors delivers lines that you never find flat or painful (a nearest unknown phenomenon in North American film, and (of course) Norwegian film, where the actors constantly reel off flat and old clichés and dialog which is like read from the script). It's so real that many adults (40 and up) may feel uneasy, the film gets too honest for them. Well, they'd better sit there and be uneasy. Because it's maybe that way it's supposed to be? Even if it's a shame that they don't understand. Because we shall not censor. The result will only get stupid and flat. We have too many examples of that already. The title Fucking Åmål is also sensational, and it's even more sensational in English-speaking countries. Quite wisely, they've released the film as Show Me Love there. Even if that title only tells one part of what the film is about, is it more cliché-like, and gives the impression that this is only a love-story. On the other hand, the love-story is maybe the most touching, and Fucking Åmål may give a very false impression of the lovely film, especially if you don't understand that Åmål is a town, and not a person. That's why the original title should be used with caution outside Scandinavia (I'm going to use Show Me Love on my new site). Some American sites won't even mention that the film is originally called Fucking Åmål, they find it too offensive. Back to the dialog. The fact that the film is Swedish is of course also an important point in this context. I don't think Fucking Åmål could have been even a quarter this good in Norwegian. I can tell that pretty sure by just reading the Norwegian translation of the book. It's been written about a possible American remake of the film, but I can never believe that would be any good. I really doubt that the Americans could manage to create the warm and touching feeling in this film, and they'd most likely replace a lot of the best scenes in the film with flat clichés.
The scene where Agnes tries to commit suicide with a safety razor made a special impression to me. Especially maybe because I can't understand how anyone can manage to cut themselves like that. An anecdote. In the science class in my first year in the gymnasium (Upper High School/ Upper Comprehensive School, common subjects) we were supposed cut or «slash» ourselves in the finger with some sort of mini-scalpel to find out what kind of blood type we had. Well, it sounds easy, but I was all the same dizzy, pale, extremely hot, and it almost blackened for my eyes. Somebody else had to cut for me, yes. That's why I get some of the same feeling when Agnes cuts herself with the safety razor. It expresses where extremely down she feels, how terrible and awful she thinks her life is. The fact that she uses a safety razor, which will not cut deep enough, rather than a razor blade, brings it all down to an everyday level. And that makes the scene even more powerful.
The film technique is simple, but still genius. It makes a dogma-like impression, but there aren't used handheld cameras as many people tend to believe. They were most often placed on a tripod in a corner of the location. Using a lot of zooming and pan shots created the handheld effect. There are not many cuts, which is something that destroys the experience in many Norwegian films. You know, in this film it's often panned between two or more persons that are talking to each other, rather than making a cut between every person. Some people reacts negative to (especially after they've got the DVD) that the film is very grainy. This has nothing to do with the DVD (the picture quality is exactly the same in the cinema), but this is connected to that the film is shot with 16 mm film, and then transferred to 32 mm, which gives a grainy and coarse reaching over the picture, nearly like a home-video production. The colours are not so bright that we are used to today. Since this, after all, is a low budget film (9 million SEK, about 1,125,000 USD or 750,000 GBP) and they couldn't afford to use the newest gear. But that gave them the ability to use smaller 16 mm cameras, which also required a lot less artificial light (this is also a typical to dogma films). This gives a special natural feeling to the film, at least for hardcore film fans. It's not sure you've noticed this at all! And note that Fucking Åmål isn't a dogma film, it just has many equalities with dogma films, speaking of technique. Often, not many extra props were brought to a location either. The house where the party takes place was used without modification (well, they had to remove the bath tube during the filming of the bathroom scene to get room for the photographer).
Fucking Åmål is also free for needless and pointless violence and action scenes. Naturally, this also means that the film can seem boring to some people. It's drama- character- and emotionally driven, so if you don't manage to identify with the story (where impossible it may seem). Some younger viewers might also get caught up in disconnected scenes and quotes, and can't manage to put the whole story together. This can be negative and destroying for the film, so they should be explained what the film really is about. Children under 11 years will most likely have problems to identify with the story (well, children become teens a lot earlier than before), and you should be at least 15 or even 18 to get a full understanding of the story. During the youth time some may be little tolerant according the Lesbian element, but that will hopefully change after they've seen this film. Or when they get older. Everyone who can't handle this must go into himself or herself. Apart from that, is this film one absolutely everyone should watch, especially those who had objections to it previously.
The only negative thing to say is that all other films only gets shadows in proportion to Fucking Åmål. This may seem like a cliché, but it's actually true. Since I first saw this film in the beginning of March 2000, I haven't had the same desire to see many of my earlier favourite films, because they seem so pointless compared to this work of genius. Well, it'll of course change over time, but Fucking Åmål will forever mark a turning point - it's something you can't really describe with words, it must be experienced...
Where is Åmål?
I guess it could be fun to know where Åmål is, as you see, it's pretty close to the Norwegian border in the south-east of Sweden. You probably know already, but the film wasn't shot in Åmål, but in Trollhättan, which also is a small city pretty close to Åmål. You can easily locate the cities by clicking on the map to the right.
Cast & Crew
Lukas Moodysson has both written the script and directed Fucking Åmål. He was born in 1969, and his relatively young age can tell be one of the reasons behind the film's success. Already as a 17-year old he published his first poem collection, and later there were more and a also a novel (Vitt Blod - White Blood). I believe these books might be difficult to get today, but here is a complete list. Lukas attended «Dramatiska Institutet» to become a film director, and made some short films there. Uppgörelse i Den Undre Världen (Settlement in The Underworld) was awarded a prize to in the student film festival in München. Bara Prata Lite (Only Talk Some) from 1997 has participated in a lot of festivals both inside and outside Sweden. Fucking Åmål was his first feature film, and this fall we'll hopefully see a new masterpiece - Tilsammans (Together) about people between 25 and 30 years, and some children, living in a collective in the 70's.
Well, Lukas surely has something to live up to after this. He's a bit afraid of all the positive reception the film has got, and he's very self-critic. He gives Fucking Åmål four out of five points. I'm crossing my fingers for Tilsammans.
Lukas is a vegetarian, and he is not afraid of propagandising for vegetarianism. I'm (of course) a vegetarian too, and I hope Lukas uses his films in an even greater deal to spread that we must have a greater respect for our fellow creatures, far greater... Meat is murder! I deepen this further on my private pages.
Some trivia: On the DVD Lukas mentions that the potato chips that is eaten in the film is his favourite. It's actually Sourcream & Onion, which also is my favourite! His favourite film is Mike Leigh's Secrets & lies, and his life motto is:
It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind
The Swedish Film Awards - Guldbaggan
The Swedish Film Awards or Guldbaggan 1998, where Fucking Åmål was nominated in six categories and won in four of them, is a chapter for itself. Lukas had decided to say something meaningful instead of the usual speech of thanks. But it didn't turn out quite as it was meant to, when he talked about that you should be nice to children, keep the speed limitations, that film had nothing to do in the opera house (the public reacted with chirping, so Lukas showed them the finger), and that one, of course, shall not eat meat. It's obvious, but people have strangely difficulties to understand that. Like many other artists Lukas Moodysson expresses himself a bit awkwardly in public, but after a week most people in Sweden forgot this. Personally, I don't really see what people reacted on; he didn't show the in a very serious way, if you see what I mean. It was not that seriously meant. But he kept it going in five minutes, though...
Alexandra Dahlström was known for her sometimes careless and childish statements in the media (she's calmed down a bit now), and that lead to that many also didn't really pay attention to what she had to say, which really was very important. Even not on Guldbaggan was she heard. The program was probably long past schedule, and she only got to say «Jag tycker det är lite tråktigt med all sexism och utseendefixering...» («I'm tired of all all sexism and «look fixation»...») before the presenter interrupted her - «Du, mitt lilla hjärta, det är så att...» («You, my little heart, it's so that...». This condescending tone offended her of course, and she exclaims: «Förminska inte mig nu!» («Don't reduce me!»), and made a «CP-sign» (see picture to the left) behind his back. Alexandra wanted to say some of that which she says in the RFSL interview (Swedish, look farther down on the page). I've read that she was very much like Alexandra when she was 14 years, and read a lot of the girl magazines which only is about look and such things. That's why she's turned down interview offers from «Vecko Revyn» every time. Rebecca had been in the spotlight for a longer time, and knew how to handle the media. She also has a much more calm nature than Alexandra has (like Alexandra was like Elin, Rebecka was like Agnes). Thus, there isn't much to tell about her in this context. Her speech was very short, she'd planned to comment the weird letter they'd received before the awards (about them having a speech about 50- 60 seconds, a bit personal, but with humorous touch), but Lukas had already done that. It belongs to the story that the mood among the public was not too good this evening, and a lot of the other prize receivers also complained about various things. You can download a summary of Guldbaggan from Klubba (in Swedish naturally).
It's at least good that we've got some new «film stars» who are not boring and without any viewpoints, but really stand for the moral of the film, and develop the subjects in it further. They're also very normal. Either Rebecca, Alexandra, or especially Lukas are very good to express themselves in public; they really seem a bit shy. But it's maybe them who fit best as artists. We can hope that they will choose this way also in the future. It's maybe a bit bad that Rebecca and Alexandra push the other actors a bit away, but that's a part of the game, I guess. Lukas must get a new course in English, by the way! At a German press conference it's nearly ludicrous to listen to him. On the other hand, there is given a lot of interesting information about the film here.
Rebecca Månstråle Liljeberg was born on May 13, 1981 in Turinge and she's later lived in Älvsjö, Bagarmossen, Nynäshamn, Mariefred and 8- 10 other places. She attended Kungsholmens gymnasium. The family is mother, stepmother, father, stepfather, 3 brothers and sisters. No pets. Her favourite music is Edie Brickell, Leah Andreone and more. Favourite film is Brødrene Løvehjerte (Brothers Lionheart) and Star Wars. The O'boy-scene is her favourite in Fucking Åmål. She's got a
PowerMac 7500/250Mhz G3 computer (and a PC), and uses Netscape 4.5. She enjoys working with computers (web design, programming...), and has learned everything on her own (like C programming, UNIX and Linux - Oh no! She knows more than I do :-)). Favourite game is Zelda 64 on N64. She went in 9A just like Agnes, and drives a Ford Mustang 74. She embroiders to relax.
I found instinctively Rebecca Liljeberg as the leading role, and was a bit surprised when they in Sweden often focus on Alexandra Dahlström. They are really just a much leading roles both of them I think, and it's about who you identify most with. The actor performances in this film are quite amazing, when you think about that most of the young actors have never played in a feature film before (some not at all). I'm especially fascinated by the natural way Rebecca plays Agnes. She's really a fantastic actress. Only the way she communicates is quite unbelievable. She speaks clearly and with no boundaries in her family, but she says rather little out in the public (here I can see myself, as so many other places in this film). Agnes also never swears, like most of the other kids do, that's an interesting detail. The way she moves her eyes in the scene where Alexandra Dahlström, who plays Elin, asks if she wants to come along to the party is something that just have to be experienced. Her expressions are unbelievable!
Rebecca is living together with 26 year old David Flamholc (the man in the picture is Lukas, not David, if you wondered). Agnes has actually had it a bit like Agnes in the film. She moved a lot during her childhood, and lived on many places like Åmål. Her parents divorced early. She hated the lower High School/ lower comprehensive school, although she was never mobbed. Rebecka thinks Lukas hit the problem right on the spike. Now she is happy living in Stockholm, they are used to celebrities here. Agnes mostly hangs around with older friends. Actually she's working part-time as a waiter, so you might track her up...
Rebecca is currently busy with studies; she's actually going to be a doctor for children, and it's not likely that she'll continue acting, although the theatre was very important for her in her childhood («to find herself»). She's earlier played the Christmas calendar series Sunes Jul (Sunes's Christmas) (1991) when she was 9 years old and in the short film (26 minutes) Närkontakt (Close Encounter) (1997). You can download clips and the complete film (140 MB QuickTime, divided in three files) from my site. In October 1999 was film Sherdil, where Rebecca plays the lead role as fourteen year old Sanna, first showed in Sweden. She decides to save a horse which shall be slaughtered, and there is also some romance... On DVD now! (Region 2, Swedish and Norwegian subtitles only). I don't believe there will be an international release of this film; it didn't go so well on cinemas in Sweden. If so, only on festivals. Rebecka also had a small, but important role as Sandra in Där Regnbågen Slutar (Where the Rainbow Ends), which also was shown for the first time in October 1999. It's also available on DVD (region 2, Swedish and Norwegian subtitles only), and can for instance be ordered from my site, even if you live outside Scandinavia. Rebecka returns in the role as Sandra i Richard Hobert's last film about the seven death sins, Födelsedagen (The Birthday) (2000), which is shown on cinemas in Sweden right now. Download a scene from that, and two pictures from Där Regnbågen Slutar from Sulo Kallas' page. She's also played in the TV-series Längtans blåa blomma (The Blue Flower of Longing) (1997), the theatre play Casa Balkan (1999) and the last episode of (6) the new season of Skjärgårdsdoktorn (The Skerry Doctor) (2000). In addition to this, she also plays in the last three parts of the TV series Eva & Adam (2000) as Frida (episode 6- 8). Besides the fact that Rebecka plays in it, it's a very good series (has some of the Fucking Åmål feeling). Download the scenes with Rebecka from Sulo Kallas' page. ICQ? She's there, but I doubt she still use it. I know she's interested in computers, and had her own homepage before, but it's unfortunately gone. There is on the other hand a half-official site, where you'll find the «latest news» about Rebecka and Fucking Åmål. There is a message forum with new messages daily.
Alexandra Dahlström was born on February 12, 1984, that means that she's 16 this year (2000). She lives in Minneaberg i Stockholm, and has attended the first year of college/ upper comprehensive school, social studies side). She has an older sister called Jenny. Her mother is Russian, while her father is Swedish, so she's then half-Russian. Her favourite music is Blur, Popsie, PJ Harvey, Beastie Boys, Miles Davis and a lot more. The first record she bought was «Forever Your Girl» with Paula Abdul. Her favourite film is A Clockwork Orange (or at least was, she mentioned some French film in a new interview) and her favourite book is «1984» by George Orwell (hmm... a film/ book we others thought was a bit half-good at school. School ruins a lot of good things. I'm afraid Fucking Åmål will be downgraded to a school-film for the next youth generation). Her favourite scene in Fucking Åmål is the scene where Elin talks about that she'll take drugs («knarka») (she also mentioned the «foot fetish» scene, which was actually her idea). Her favourite colour is red, and she likes all school subjects actually. Her favourite food is meat (no, no... didn't she listen to Lukas?) and dark chocolate ('hicken McNuggets?). Her favourite drink is water (?) and hot O'boy (hot chocolate milk).
Alexandra Dahlström is in difference to Rebecca single, but she's not so interested in having a boyfriend. She's tired of boys, just like Elin in the film, and she might even date girls instead (she stated this when she was 14). - Girls kiss better than boys do, she once said. And she doesn't want to be a celebrity or well-known person, or looked on as cute or nice («snygg»). A bit late to think about that now maybe, but she precisely define that it's the role figure, Elin we know from the film, not Alexandra. The same accounts for Rebecca of course, although both of them have many similarities to their role figures, at least when they were on the same age. Alex likes to analyse poems by the way, and doesn't really know what she wants to become, but it's quite sure she'll continue acting (She said once - I don't want to continue act. I will just sleep.). Alex' film debut was, Sanning eller konsekvens (Truth or Dare) from 1997. It also won a Swedish film award for best script, and was also showed at the film festival in Berlin. It's about some of the same things as Fucking Åmål, but the takes pace in the 12- 13 age. She also played in Tomten är far til alla barnen (Santa is the father of all the children aka In bed with Santa), about a Christmas celebration where the whole «family» gathers, included old and new husbands and wives. It isn't really a success. This film was first showed Christmas 1999 in Scandinavia, but that was before I «discovered» Fucking Åmål, so unfortunately I didn't watched it. Alexandra also debuted in theatre September 1999, in Kranes Konditori (Krane's Café) at Dramaten. ICQ? Unfortunately, Alex no longer uses ICQ (at least not under her real name), of understandable reasons maybe. You'll find everything you «need» å to know about Alexandra on Alexandra Dahlström - an actor with style! (Swedish). Here is a quite new interview with her: GP Attityd (Swedish).
Is everyone bisexual? In a quite interesting interview with RFSL (English translation) Alexandra and Rebecka talks a lot about what the film is about, among other things the vague difference between friendship and love, especially among girls and many other thoughtful points I'd actually thought of myself earlier. Absolutely worth reading! I'm not sure Alex and Rebecka would agree to everything today, though...
In contrast to Rebecca and Alexandra, has Erica Carlson, who plays Jessica (born 1981), always wanted to become an actor. She studied drama at the Gymnasium (upper High School) in Trollhättan actually. Fucking Åmå is her debut film, and she hopes she can continue as an actor in the future. She's was host for TV-huset (The TV House) on Swedish Z-TV. Erica was overshadowed a bit by Rebecca and Alexandra during the promotion, and that's especially bad because she actually wants to be an actor! On the other hand is her part a bit simpler than the to leading roles.
Mathias Rust (born 1982) and Stefan Hörberg (born 1981), who played Johan and Markus, are actually also from Trollhättan. They've attended the drama studies, and wish to continue acting. Mathias plays in the band «Mathias Rudt & 0520», that released an album summer 1999.
In other roles we meet Josefin Nyberg as Viktoria, Ralph Carlsson as dad Olof, Maria Hedborg as mum Karin, Axel Widegren as little brother Oskar, Jill Ung as mum Birgitta and Lisa Skagerstam as Camilla. Here is a complete credits list (Norwegian).
The music in Fucking Åmål really amplifies the impression in the many emotional scenes. Even if it's mostly rather unknown (and cheap) Swedish artists, they fit really well. Classics like «Når vi två blir en» («When we two becomes one») with Gyllene Tider (Swedish band, «Golden Times»), and «I Want To Know What Love Is» with Foreigner are also included. Broder Daniel (Swedish band, «Brother Daniel») gives a very good atmosphere in their three songs, Underground, Whirlwind and I'll Be Gone (released as a single called Fucking Åmål, not written especially for the film, though).
«Adagio per flauto; Archi ed organo» (by Albinoni) gives a very depressing atmosphere in the suicide scene. I must admit that I download all the music I could find in MP3 (shame on me), but now I've got the CD. It includes all music from the film, only except «Lasse Kronér» with Hjalle & Heavy, which we hear in a second when the kids are gathered outside the Hot Dog kiosk. Even «the music» played on the electric organ during the party is included. Something that is really fun about this soundtrack is that it also includes voice-tracks of the most memorable moments and quotes (well, I might not agree completely to the choices), e.g. the O'boy-scene. You can order the soundtrack in the shop.
It was some music they'd planned to include in the film, but wasn't, because it was too expensive or it was problematic for some other reason. Here's the list: Refused/ Thomas Di Leva (Swedish collaboration) - Jag Äter Inte Mina Vänner (I Don't Eat My Friends, animal liberation song), The Smiths - I Know It's Over, Morrissey - Everyday Is Like Sunday, Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse Of The Heart, Stickboy - Total Eclipse Of The Heart, She-Moves - Breaking All The Rules and Scorpions - You And I. Lukas Moodysson is a vegetarian (like me), and Jag Äter Inte Mine Vänner is about just that. The text is maybe not the best ever written, (but a bit touching since I am the one I am), but with music is the song quite good, especially if you understand the symbolism (Animals are humans means that the difference between humans and other animals is very vague). You'll get more information and the text (in Swedish) if you follow the link. The Smiths is also known for resistance against eating fellow creatures (they've for instance released the album Meat is Murder). Agnes has a Morrissey poster in her room, and it was originally meant to have this music in the film. It should show that Agnes is different from other girls. During the filming, they (Lukas and one more from the crew) heard Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse Of The Heart on the car radio, and wanted that during the kiss scene in the car, but it was too expensive. It had cost about 400000 skr (about 50000 dollars). But Foreigner is a very good replacement. I really got a kick from this song, even though I usually only listens to Iron Maiden, Metallica and such. Gives me a bit nostalgia back to the early 90's too, even if it's Bitter Blue I remember surely. You just got to hear it again! Well, after Fucking &Amål I started to listen to more varied music, like 70's and 80's classics and the soundtrack of course. Enough about that. She-Moves I don't know anything about. Scorpions' You And I was the song they thought of in the car scene from the very beginning.
Fucking Åmål is a low-budget film which never was intended a great success outside Sweden. Lukas Moodysson had a quite sober expectations about his film before it was shown. The film cost 9.5 million SEK, and that's about the half of normal production costs for a Swedish feature film. The box-office income must now be over 100 million SEK. The film made it very good in Norway too, and ended on second place in visitor count in Norway 1999, only passed by Notting Hill. For a change also most reviewers agreed that this was a great film. Fucking Åmål was seen by around 400,000 Norwegians, and 800,000 Swedes in the cinema. That means that it was at least just as popular here as in it's native country, when we take the population into the consideration. Fucking Åmål has made it good in a lot of festivals, e.g. the film festival in Berlin, where in won a number of prizes. Fucking Åmål also got away with wholly four prizes during the Swedish Film Awards (Guldbaggan) (best script, best directing, best female roles and best film). It was Sweden's Oscar candidate, but it was unfortunately never nominated. That might say something about the Americans, or that there were other films like the Danish Festen (The Party), which was judged more serious and not «only» a High School movie. Which is wrong of course, since FÅ isn't only a High School movie, it's not a High School movie at all if you ask me. The story is universal for all people who ever were teenagers, and it's definitively not only for youth. Some teenagers might even find it boring, because FÅ is only based on drama and emotions, no action. Fucking Åmål, with it's unmasked portray of teenagers and puppy love between to girls, can be too much for some Americans. Show Me Love, which is the international title, has no rating in the U.S. I don't know the reason for that, most likely isn't every «small« foreign film rated by the MPAA. This entails anyway, that nobody under 17 years can get in without a guardian, as far I've understood it, and that some cinemas will refuse to show it. It was in all cases only meant for a limited release, which means that it was only showed in the largest cities like New York and Los Angeles during the last quarter of 199. I can't believe this film would have got a NC-17, the worst fate a film can get in the U.S. (they are mostly cut, like Scream and American Pie, to get a R), but anyway it would have got a R, because of language and sexual references, even if it after all also is a film that teenagers should see. But Americans are rather weird. American Pie for instance, had to be cut to avoid a NC-17 rating. This film (the cut version) was rated 11 in Norway. With no other comparison btw. (Erin Brockovich, which had R in the U.S., was rated General in Norway.) In proportion to Fucking Åmål is American Pie a ridiculous smooth and flat American affair, even though it has it's moments. Enough about America. The reason for the change of title to Show Me Love is of course because no films can have «fucking» i title over there (or any English-speaking country I guess), that would be worse than... anything. On the other hand, the original title could give the audience a worse expectation about the film, not knowing what Åmål is. Show Me Love might seem like a more banal title, but it tells you more about what the film is about than the European title. I like it more and more. Show Me Love got very good reviews in the U.S. too actually, even if they're sceptical to subtitles (in addition to everything else) and the subject matter may be found offensive. But it seems a bit strange to me when Anita Gates in New York Times thinks that the film has a charm and winning simplicity, but it's not all that deep (??). Fucking Åmål is one of the deepest films I've ever seen, and Americans can't really brag of being large-scale producers of especially deep films. FÅ was a success in Germany, in every country it has been shown I think, not thinking of box-office results. In Germany and Austria the film has the alternate title Raus aus Åmål, and is still showing in the cinema some places here and in other countries. It's not yet been showed in all 30 countries it's been sold too. FÅ is shown or is going to be shown in France, Italy, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, China, Slovakia and Russia. A Japanese release was also talked about. Today is the contributors to the film and director Moodysson involved in other projects, and is soon finished with the whole Åmål I guess, if there isn't a successor then. But Lukas Moodysson has stated (quite clear) that he won't make it, but one time he said the opposite too. Rebecka also said that she won't play in a successor. And maybe it's best so anyway. That Fucking Åmål not shall be destroyed by a bad successor, because it would never manage to live up to the original. And it had to show that it didn't work out only well for Agnes and Elin in the future, and that won't be any nice will it? It's also been spoken about an American remake, but I don't believe the Americans can manage to put this magic experience to a film in the same kind of way. It would make more Americans (and other people) interested in the original, though.
Success among reviewers
For once it isn't just me who loves this film. I've got nearly the whole world with me; only except Harald Kolstad in the Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen and his fellow partisans, and I can tell you - there isn't many of them! Please observe that many of these reviews are quite shallow, and don't give the film the depth it really deserves. They've probably seen the film only one time (it should have been forbidden to write a review by your first impression) - I've watched it eleven times (May 18, 2000)!
Probably Sweden's best film - ever! (Translated from Swedish)
Aftonbladet (Sweden) Read the review at Aftonbladet Read the review here (TXT) (Swedish)
Fucking Åmål isn't only an unbelievable good youth film, but an unbelievable great film. At last a Swedish film that's fucking bloody dick-good! 5 out of 5 points. (Translated from Swedish)
Expressen (Sweden) Read the review at Expressen Read the review here (TXT) (Swedish)
Expressen (Swedish) also has an article about Lukas Moodysson's next film, which shall be called Tillsammans (Together). The story takes place in a hippie collective in the 70's, and also this film was shot in Trollhättan. Shooting started October 27, 1999.
Among the greatest, proudest, most life longing I've ever seen (Translated from Norwegian)
Varden (Norway) Read the review at Varden Read the review here (TXT) (Norwegian)
The young actors can obviously recognise themselves in their frustrated characters, whom they give life and lines with biggest naturalness. (Translated from Norwegian)
Aftenposten (Norway) Read the review at Aftenposten Read the review here (TXT) (Norwegian)
Seldom I've seen a film that so unmasked, direct, warm, and not least funny, describes the restless condition that's called youth time. Dice 5. (Translated from Norwegian)
VG (Norway) Read the review at VG Read the review here (TXT) (Norwegian)
VG's readers could also meet director Lukas Moodysson and Rebecca Liljeberg «Tett på nett» March 17, 1999 (Norwegian/ Swedish). Here they answer a lot of interesting questions (and some uninteresting), even if the answers could have been longer, I guess you'll find the answer to at least some of what you want to know about Fucking Åmål here (if you know Scandinavian, though).
A sore, fun, warm film, this, free of clichés and with a delightful dialog, where humans and environment is taken loving and observant at the point. Dice 5. (Translated from Norwegian)
Dagbladet (Norway) Read the review at Dagbladet Read the review here (TXT) (Norwegian)
At Dagbladet you may also state your own opinion on the film! This is also possible on the International Movie DataBase.
Fucking Åmål is a deeply humanistic, life longing film about friendship. It's the type of film where you leave the theatre with the song from the credits on your mind. Because you want to live like this yourself. Like them in the film. Fall in love and drink O'boy.
Even if you aren't a teenager anymore.
Show me love. Show me life. Show me what it's all about... (Translated from Norwegian)
Yngve Sæther, Film & Kino 1/99 (Norway) Read the review here (JPG): Page 1 Page 2 (Norwegian)
I really feel this review takes the film serious. You can order the magazine from their homepage! For some reasons haven't all Film & Kino's reviewers got Fucking Åmål on their Top Ten list for 1999. Not high-cultural enough?
- cinematic TV-banal close to despair, dramatically thin and flat and not very credible, psychologically shallow. (Translated from Norwegian)
I wonder which film Harald Kolstad from Dagsavisen has seen. I suspect that he has strayed into the wrong cinema auditorium, and never realised this. Could it haven been Speed 2 he really watched? :-) Or I guess his youth was over far too long ago. It's rumoured that he thought the film was completely unlikely. I'm looking for this quite obscure review, but I haven't found it yet. Because he must of course come here to ruin everything. «I'm a critic and I want to criticise!» He has evidently misunderstood some things when it comes to film. On the other hand, he should be passed in peace, he deserves no attention...
Love at first sight (Translated from Danish)
San Francisco Chronicle (USA)
Easily the best teen movie of the year
The Village Voice (USA)
In its understanding and empathy, this film makes room for all of us, creating a world we will cherish no matter who we are or whom we love.
Los Angeles Times (USA) Read the review at LA Times
In its quiet, intelligent, understated way, this film loves teenagers; most teen movies just use them.
Sun Times (USA) Read the review at Sun Times
Ein wunderbares Stück Kino über jene Zeit des Lebens, in der einem die Welt zu eng ist, und wahres Glück bedeutet, das perfekte Mischungsverhältnis für Schokoladenmilch zu kennen.
(A wonderful piece of film about the time of your life, where the world is far too narrow, and your happiness consist of finding the perfect composition for chocolate milk.)
Kino (Switzerland) Read the review at Kino (German)
Unlike most Hollywood teen movies, which are designed to flatter their audience, "Show Me Love" acknowledges how mean and nasty teenage girls can be -
Newsweek (USA) Read the review at Newsweek
More reviews can be found on my Fucking Åmål site.
Lukas Moodysson has also released the screenplay for Fucking Åmål as a book, which also includes some bonus scenes (cut scenes), a bit about the production, some pictures and other fun things. The book is maybe mostly meant for hardcore-fans, but I think it was very interesting. The script will make you observe details you might not notice while watching the film, and it also gives some supplementing information, even if it seems a bit too brief to be the «real» shooting script. The Norwegian edition costs only 39 NOK (no more than a Donald Pocket!), so it's absolutely worth getting. I'll recommend you to buy the Swedish edition (out of print, so hurry!), which costs 66 NOK. It has a bit better paper and picture quality (still inn b/w though). But the most important thing is that a lot of the atmosphere is missing in the (at times quite bad) Norwegian translation. Both books are available from my store (though to a bit higher prices). You don't understand Swedish or Norwegian? Don't worry, there is an English transcript available. On fucking-amal.virt.cz you'll find a version with improved English and also some pictures grabbed from the DVD. On the other hand, the English grammar and word choices in these transcipts are still rather poor, and it's sometimes a bit painful to read. They don't include the cut scenes or other text you find in the book (to come on my new site - surf.to/amal!)
During the preliminary work for this article, and a general interest to find all the information I could get related to this fantastic film, I searched for «Fucking Åmål» in the Norwegian search engine SOL Kvasir. But no, Kvasir was locked for «pornographic searches» in the period 08:00- 20:00. This show us how ridicules such restrictions are. It worked to search for only «Åmål» on the other hand. I was quite surprised by all the hits I got, even on AltaVista. But if the Kvasir lock wasn't enough, our network administrator for one of the computer labs at school had got the genius idea to lock for all URLs which containing the word «fuck». What??? This tells more about the teacher than the pupils maybe. Well, I've drawn the conclusion of this, and made sure not to use the word «fuck» i any of my files connected to this film. This is of course both unintentional censoring, but Fucking Åmål has also been censored directly. A reader's letter to Haugesunds
Avis (Haugesund's Newspaper. Haugesund is a city in Norway.) about pollution of language in a film aimed at young people the conclusion is that the cinema administration in Haugesund must draw a line for their own marketing. At the same time the newspaper's editor supports the reader, and states that such ads won't be found in his paper. All the fuzz is about a catchline from the film: Why do we have to live in Fucking bloody dick-Åmål?.(Hvorfor må vi bo i Fucking jævla kuk-Åmål?). The cinema boss took responsibility, and delivered an add with a distinct sladd! Film & Kino 2/99 reports this. Well, Norway is really in step with the time. I can't do anything but shake my head. Some had evidently not understood anything. A film that's supposed to portray the youth time must necessarily use the teenagers' own language, else it'll only get stupid and flat. Either you like it or not. And how many is it, seriously speaking, who reacts to these «taboo-words» anymore (except Americans and religious people)? I think «pollution of language» is a strange expression, it's really about varying the language, isn't it? It' just as bad to say «like, as if, well, unreal» («lissom») or «cool» in every other sentence as «fuck». In this case, you've got nothing to criticise Fucking Åmål for. Here's taboo covered expressions used with knowledge of how (most) teenagers really talk, and not just loaded into every third or fourth sentence as they often are in Hollywood films, and without fitting in the context at all (that they say fuck in every other sentence in American films nearly everywhere and to everyone, when we know that in reality it would be an outcry if someone said «fuck» in a public occasion (especially in TV and radio), it isn't very realistic).
After this article was written back in spring 2000 a number of DVDs have been released - some of them with improved quality and of course more language options - so check them out in my store.
Fucking Åmål was, at last, released on DVD by Sandrew Metronome (a Warner company that publishes films and videos in Scandinavia) spring 2000, after many delays. To be a completely Nordic release, this is very good, because you get both Director's Commentary by Lukas Moodysson (which is very interesting, but in Swedish of course), a trailer and some text pages about the film, the director and the actors. Aspect ratio is 1.85:1 Letterbox (it might seem different because the image is placed closer to the upper than the lower part of the screen, at least with my player). The image quality wills in some eyes seem bad, and that is very remarkable on the DVD, which is known for it's superb clarity. But haven't really got the point, I guess. This is not the DVD you take out to show the format's superiority, though. (After you've watched this film all other films gets suddenly very clear! I might draw it a bit too far now, but this creates an ever-longer distance to the literally smooth Hollywood productions.) The sound, which is presented in Dolby Surround, keeps mostly in the centre- and front speakers, but this is a drama, and then isn't the sound effects especially important. That's the music on the other hand, so play it on high volume (as always)! I could of course have wished for more extra material, like more chapter selections, (which on the other hand is don't very good, with sound and motion picture in the menu), 12 is far too few, should have been over 29, the cut scenes, a documentary (behind-the-scenes), interviews with the actors or even only some still images from the production. But I guess it was a question about money, Fucking Åmål is a «small» Swedish film, and DVD is still a small format compared to VHS (ugh). The DVD contains menus and subtitles in Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish only. There is a Danish edition, which contains Danish menus and subtitles, distributed by Scanbox. Apart from this, content is identical. Anyway, I'll recommend you to watch the film without subtitles, that'll give you a much better experience. However, since you most likely can't understand Scandinavian languages, I guess that's not an option for you, and your more interested in video releases in other countries. I thought it was a bit strange that they hadn't included other European subtitles on the disc, at least English and German, since people all around the world is screaming to get this film in their hands. But they guess Memfis wants deals with distributors in specific countries, so the release can be adapted for the demand. A German DVD/ VHS release from Concorde is confirmed to come later this year, and I guess a release in the U.S. and U.K. should be quite guaranteed. Fucking Åmål was sold to over 30 countries for cinema release, so I guess a lot of other countries will follow, in some time though, since it still is playing on the theatres in some countries. There hasn't been a VHS release anywhere outside the Nordic countries either, as far as I know. Be aware of that the DVDs reviewed here are PAL region 2 discs (Europe), so you might need to modify your player to be able to play it in your country. The discs are delivered in a Keep Case and costs around 25 USD, 17 GBP or 200 NOK. You may order all released Show Me Love DVDs internationally from my store. You can also order the U.S. English-subtitled DVD from DVDExpress or Amazon. Check the store for more information.
Downloads and links
In this «review», or rather thesis maybe, I've added a lot of downloads and hints to where you can find more information. Here is all the links well arranged, if you didn't get them all, or don't bother to read everything.
These sections are moved to my Fucking Åmål site. Here you'll find pictures, other downloads and links. You can still click most pictures in this article to get an enlargement.
It's not sure many remembers Fucking Åmål in twenty years. But I hope so. I hope Fucking Åmål will re-released with the same success as Grease was in 1998. And I hope we can take out the old dusty DVD disc and dream back in time. To a passed time... And like Grease points to us just as much as the kids of 78, I hope Fucking Åmål will have the same immortal quality to teenagers of the future. It's an Utopian idea maybe, but I really thinks that Fucking Åmål is even more important when it comes to naturalism and a down-to-earth story (naturally). At least I know that The Matrix is forgotten in twenty years, if you want to make your film immortal, you shouldn't base it on special effects. This is a film some Norwegian journalists had managed to put on their Top 10 list for 1999 without including Fucking Åmål. The Matrix has nothing to do with nothing with reality. A quite pointless and dull film that really disappointed me after all the undeserved hype it got. I'm sorry to notice though, that The Matrix seems to be more discussed now than Fucking Åmål. But that's what to expect of today's society I guess.
At least I'll do mine to make sure that this article is still, if not here, but somewhere on the Internet in 2018. Are we agreed to meet again then?
This «review» got rather long, and I felt it should or had to be so. Some might fall in VG's (Norwegian newspaper) pitfall and stamp this as a teenage-film, and because of that it's not really important enough. But this is a film for everyone, and it should definitively not be slapped with a youth classification. Actually, I'm a bit surprised that it was such a great success among teens as it was. You should believe that most teenagers of today would demand more action, and that a film like this purely based on emotion and drama easily would become too boring. I'm positively surprised of course, but even so I think that only a bit older people (18 and above) has the ability to understand the message of the film fully, and not just think it's cool that they say fucking bloody dick-Åmål (fucking Jävla kuk-Åmål). Some people in this age, around 14, might also be less tolerant to the Lesbian love story, and think that especially Agnes is only «iack» and «ugh». That ruins everything of course... This is the most important film I've reviewed in KP ever. The others get like mid-end in comparison. Fucking Åmål belongs in a completely different class. We're talking at least high-end. It's nearly pointless to put a score on this film. Because 6 points to this film doesn't mean the same as the 6 points to Dante's Peak, Terminator 2: Judgment Day or Lion King II: Simba's Pride. You'll understand at once that this is something completely different. And a «roll of the dice» is really far too shallow when it comes to this film. I've written a lot, but its surely a lot more golden words that could be said, and aspects I haven't noticed that should have been included. But I've tried to express my complete view. Above is a list of links which is an excellent starting point for an even deeper in-depth study of the phenomenon and cult classic Fucking Åmål...
Completely at the end I want to quote (translated from Norwegian) Yngve Sæther in Film & Kino again...
Fucking Åmål is a deeply humanistic, life chasing film about friendship. It's the type of film where you leave the theatre with the song from the credits on your mind. Because you want to live like this yourself. Like them in the film. Fall in love and drink O'boy.
Even if you aren't a teenager anymore.
Show me love. Show me life. Show me what it's all about...
And if I can't do that, I can at least be a teenager and see Fucking Åmål again and again and again. While I'm drinking chocolate milk... I'd nearly forgotten how good that was.
OEB April 2000.
This is an improved version for nordicdvd.com – visit kp for the original version. Not much of this review has been changed since it was originally written, so some information is outdated but is kept of historical reasons and to leave the "feeling" of the article intact. Feel free to contact me if you have any comments or thoughts about the film or my review.